In what was building up to be a great climax to qualifying at the Euro Touring Series season opener in the Czech Republic, a late error by Ronald Volker cost him an all but certain first TQ run of the weekend with Marc Rheinard being the benefactor for his second TQ round of the event. Had Volker been able to go 30-seconds longer without error it would have set-up a three way showdown for the overall TQ between the defending champion, Rheinard and Q2 pace setter Alexander Hagberg. In the end the 7/10th lost by Volker would allow both Rheinard and Hagberg to finish 1-2 as he dropped to third, with the three separated by just 2/10ths. Rheinard & Hagberg are now set to battle for the overall in Hrotovice with the pressure on Hagberg as he needs to top the round in a faster time of the one just set by Rheinard.
‘That was a hard one’ was how Rheinard summed up the penultimate qualifier. The Tamiya Racing Factory lead driver said ‘Ronald was a little faster that time’ admitting that without his rival’s error he didn’t have the pace to match him as he still struggled with his TRF419 having issue with left hand corners towards the end of the 5-minutes. Having changed the rear shock position which improved the car slightly he said with his team-mate Viktor Wilck finding a big improvement by changing to the same shock oil front and rear he will also do this for the last round.
Asked about his run, Hagberg replied ‘bad driving’. The Swede said his T4 was again good but this time round he just ‘overshot too many corners’. Confident he has the car to take the overall TQ, he said it’s just down to him to drive it better.
Volker was clearly upset at having thrown away the chance to be in contention to extend his ETS record of being the driver with the most TQs. He said ‘I cant be more upset with myself than I am right now’. Having ‘had it (TQ) in the books’, the Yokomo driver would catch a dot and roll over his LRP powered BD7 on his second last lap. Having improved the car with it having more steering but becoming a little more difficult he said he couldn’t get the job done and he could only blame himself for such an incident. Failing to complete one error free run since the start of the event he said it was time to get that sorted in the last one, a good result having the potential to secure him second on the grid.
Setting the fastest lap of Q3, Wilck said his TRF419 was again a little better. Having been running light shock oil in the rear of his car, he made them the same going down in the front and up in the rear to 550w all round. Losing some time behind Serpent’s Marc Fischer, who ended up 8th fastest, the Swede was pleased with the direction he is going now in terms of set-up and he will continue in that direction with further changes for the last qualifier.
Just 0.027 off Wilck, Yokomo’s Yannic Prumper said it was a ‘clean but just too slow’ run. Having made the rear of his BD7 wider this left the car ‘pushing like hell’ and for the final qualifier he will go back to a narrower rear track width.
Completing the Top 6, Juho Levanen put his sudden improvement down to figuring out how to deal with understeer. Happy with his TC6.2 in practice, the Finn said from the start of qualifying he has struggled with understeer. Trying running ‘a lot less toe than normal’ in Q3 he said the car worked pretty good and while he would like to work on improving the balance between the car being too hard to drive in the beginning and having too much understeer at the end, because he needs another good result to make the main so he might just opt to run the car as is for the last round.
In the Xray Pro Stock class a third TQ run from Lars Hoppe saw him secure his first overall ETS TQ. The ARC driver was again the only driver to run 20-laps of the large track, topping the times from last year’s race winner Jan Ratheisky, Valentin Hettrich and defending champion Marek Cerny. In Formula, former champion and practice pace setter Herbert Weber took his first TQ run followed by René Kölbel after Q1 & 2 Ratheisky hit trouble while on the TQ pace.